Flowers…Where Have They All Gone?

“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,…Isaiah 40:6b-8a

ARLINGTON, VA – MAY 21: Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment place American flags at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. “Flags-In” has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army’s official ceremonial unit in 1948.

September 18, 1960

My father’s life was taken by Pancreatic Cancer…in the prime of his life, 46, a Navy doctor, a career spiraling upwards, a lovely wife, 3 daughters(12, 10, 7).  The Navy was so special for and to him.  He served in WWII in the Pacific Theater as surgeon, infection control medical officer, doctor, user of Penicillin in its early days to cure Syphillis.  From 1946-1951, he became a part of the post-war Manhattan Project, serving as a Radiological Safety Officer, while he continued to practice medicine in the Navy.  He was on Bikini Island for Operations Crossroads in 1946, then on Eniwetok for Operations Greenhouse in 1951.  By early 1960, he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer…a death sentence then and now connected with radiation poisoning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

January 30, 2013

Mama raised us girls and we cared for her in her old age.  Mama died of cancer coupled with vascular dementia and diabetes.  She was 98, never remarried.  Daddy was her true love.

We buried her ashes in Arlington National Cemetery in the same grave with the remains of her beloved Ralph after 53 years…an honor and a privilege to have our parents buried on such hallowed grounds as these.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was 2 months old. And I was their first of three, all girls. Do you think these parents were happy?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

June 7, 2018

My husband, Kenneth, served in the U. S. Army 1967-1970 in the 101st Airborne, a Combat Infantryman in Vietnam…1968-69.  Kenneth came home safely. January 18, 2018, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It is known to be associated with Agent Orange, a chemical used to defoliate the jungles in Vietnam during the war. We celebrated our 25th anniversary on May 22, 2018, a few weeks before he left this earthly sphere. He is with Jesus now so I will see him there one day. But I miss him so now.

Heroes!  These parents of mine, my husband, and ALL the others who have fought to protect this nation over many wars and many years. They each have a story, yet so many stories are quieted by death.  War is a terrible thing.  The gain is often so small.  The loss is so huge.

We remember…in many ways…flags, wreaths, flowers, small tokens, a poem, a song, photos, music, verbal stories. 

When will we ever learn?  Oh, when will we ever learn?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?  by Peter Seeger

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for husbands everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the husbands gone?
Gone for soldiers everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?  Long time passing.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he said, “What shall I cry?”

“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:5-8

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

LORD, I pray for the many families who have lost a loved one to war. I lift all of our hearts up to You, that You will comfort us, holding our hearts in Your soothing hands, our bodies and beings in Your arms of comfort all the days of our lives. Oh, God, I miss these three from my life so very much, Father.

I pray Your care for the many wounded soldiers who were injured as they served this country. Please also care for those who take care of them. God, war seems to be the way of this world, but I do not like it. In fact, I hate war. I hate hate. God, You call us to love one another. Yet our disobedience to You, our sinful nature, makes us hate, distrust, dislike, be filled with anger, and on and on. I am so sorry. I also know You have forgiven me. I thank You and praise You for Your mercy and Your grace upon my life. I ask Your mercy upon those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I pray for each one to come to know Your salvation, saving grace that they will seek love rather than any other worldly way. Oh, God, I pray for Your peace upon this earth and soon. I hate hate, Father. Through these tears, I call upon You to please guide us to stop all of this AWFUL! I cannot stand it. I truly cannot. This world is so filled with AWFUL! So filled that I can almost not see past it. YET, You give me eyes to see You and a heart softened by Your loving heart. You give me Your love, Your beauty, Your grace, and Your mercy. You give me flowers and sunshine in a very dark world. Thank You, thank You, my Heavenly Father.

I continue praying Colossians 3:12-17: May I put on then, as God’s chosen one, holy and beloved, compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if I have a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven me, so I also must forgive.  And above all these I will put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.   And let the peace of Christ rule in my heart, to which indeed I  was called in one body. And may I be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in me richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in my heart to God.  And whatever I do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:12-17)

Thank You for my parents who dearly loved me. Thank You for Kenneth who loved me like no other. He shared Christ with me, leading me to Your salvation. He loved me with the love that could only come from You. I am ever grateful, Lord. I know through this dark world, You are my Protector, my Provider, my Comforter, my Refuge, my Lord. I see the flowers even where there are graves. I know You created each human being who walked this earth… and those who walk today…prior to their grave. And I know You create beautiful flowers. Thank You. May I see, hear, and feel clearly, Lord. In the Powerful and Saving Name of Your Son, Christ Jesus, I pray. Amen.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Caisson @ Arlington National Cemetery (Photo Courtesy: HBO, http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/section-60-arlington-national-cemetery/index.html)

3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) placing flags for Memorial Day in Arlington National Cemetery: (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Words to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone? by Peter Seeger

Old graveyard with purple flowers @ Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/539587599083291924/

The other photos are from my personal collection, taken by me or a friend

Bethesda

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda (or Bethsaida), which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. John 5:2-3

There is a Bethesda in Maryland, USA, located just northwest of Washington, D.C. It takes its name from a local church, the Bethesda Meeting House (1820, rebuilt in 1849), which in turn took its name from Jerusalem’s Pool of Bethesda (Bethsaida in some versions of the Bible). 

There is another Bethesda within the Maryland Bethesda that I know very well. My Daddy was hospitalized for five months in the Bethesda Naval Hospital. He died in that hospital at his young age of 46 from Pancreatic Cancer in 1960. It will be 60 years September 18, 2020.

This was the hospital in 1960. If my memory serves me right, Daddy was up on one of those upper floors. When I read the name, Bethesda, in the Book of John, I think of that five month period of our lives. There are so many memories: good, hard, sweet, sorrowful.

The photo below is more like what it looks today.

It is now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC). It is the combined legacy of National Naval Medical Center (once referred to as the Bethesda Naval Hospital and/or Navy Med) and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, having brought the two medical facilities together in September of 2011, as decreed by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) law of 2005. Currently, this is a United States’ tri-service (Army, Navy, Air Force) military medical center, located in the community of Bethesda, Maryland. It is one of the most prominent U.S. military medical centers in the United States, having served numerous U.S. presidents since the 20th century. It is also near the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

~

Many find healing at this huge hospital complex. Others wait to get into the pool of stirred waters for some kind of healing. And others die there. No matter where on that spectrum one finds themselves, this hospital is a place for healing. That is its purpose…to find ways into and through diseases even though the physical healing may not occur for some such as my father. Yet this Bethesda is still a place for hope.

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed;
Save me and I will be saved,
For You are my praise.
Jeremiah 17:14

In pondering Bethesda, the pool in Jerusalem, I found my mind and heart wrapping around this incredible place where healing took place in Jerusalem. It was around this pool where Jesus healed.

Βηθεσδά

bēthesda

a pool (a pond or bath), which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda – the house of mercy, house of kindness, place for receiving and caring for the sick; flowing waters, the waters of which had curative powers

From the Commentary on John 5 by Matthew Henry: …for therein appeared much of the mercy of God to the sick and diseased. In a world of so much misery as this is, it is well that there are some Bethesdas – houses of mercy (remedies against those maladies), that the scene is not all melancholy.

Also, from the Commentary on John 5 by Matthew Henry: Bethesda …had five porches, cloisters, piazzas, or roofed walks, in which the sick lay. Thus the charity of men concurred with the mercy of God for the relief of the distressed. Nature has provided remedies, but men must provide hospitals.

One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. John 5:5-9

This man did not have to get into the waters that day. He did not need to depend upon another person to place him in the pool which he obviously did each time the pool was stirred. Jesus healed this man after years and years of waiting. He was a patient man, to say the least. Jesus spoke the words and the man got up on his own at once. At once, he believed. At once, he was no longer an invalid. He could walk. There was no lifting or trying to get up. He could take up his own bed. At once, he obeyed. He did not know Who he obeyed at that moment, but he soon found out the man that spoke the words was the Christ.

At once…his physical health and, presumably, his spiritual health were healed.

We are always wanting a cure for that which ails us. Those physical issues gnaw at our minds until we can find out what is going on. We are all staring down the barrel of COVID-19 right now and want all of the answers yesterday. We want to “get back to normal.” We want to have the medical profession tell us the right answer without any mistakes on a disease we have never had before. When they error and then correct themselves once they know differently, we are upset that they did not tell us that the first time. They are doing all within their power to find the answers and give us the straight-up truth. It is just hard…real hard right now. Any time we are awaiting a diagnosis, a way forward for treatment, a healing, it can be hard.

Do these scenarios play out in our spiritual lives as well? Do we want to just be healed immediately without patiently waiting and trusting in the One Who heals? The Lord guides us, teaches us, feeds us His Truth. Do we want to have it all yesterday so we can just get up and walk? Do we depend upon our pastors to teach us the Truth that they have been given by the Holy Spirit? Do we allow fellow-laymen to care for us as we wait and watch, listen and learn, pray and be prayed over? Do we allow them to provide the hospitals, the houses of mercy, while we wait? Or do we have that short attention span, wanting it all now? Do we obey or expect cures, answers without any obedience on our part?

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

“…For I am the LORD who heals you.” Exodus 15:26b

יְהֹוָה

Yehovah

Jehovah, the Lord, Yahweh, the Existing One

רָפָא

rapha’

to cure:—cure, (cause to) heal, physician, repair, thoroughly, make whole

Jehovah Rapha – The LORD Who heals

Both, in the Old Testament and the New Testament, Jehovah Rapha is present, healing both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He is with us today.

The LORD sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness You restore him to full health
. Psalm 41:3

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases,... Psalm 103:2-3

And His name—by faith in His name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. Acts 3:16

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:13-16

~

Father God, thank You for being willing to heal us of our broken bodies, our broken hearts, our broken spirits. Thank You for forgiving us our daily trespasses and giving us our daily bread. May we seek You in all ways, coming from a heart that is tender toward You and toward our brothers and sisters. May we draw near to You no matter what our circumstances may be. I pray I stay on the path that You have directed for my life. May I be obedient to Your commands, humble to Your call. “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. May I boast gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” I also pray…”For He was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For (I am) also weak in Him, but in dealing with (others) (I) will live with Him by the power of God.”** In the Strong Name of Jesus. Amen.

Graphic/Map of “Pools of Jerusalem. Shows area north of temple mount. Photo by Leon Mauldin.”

Photo of “Excavations at the Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin”

Photo of Bethesda Meeting House; English Wikipedia User: by Daniel Case

Postcard of Bethesda Naval Hospital

Photo of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center: Wikimedia Commons

Graphic: Jehovah-Rapha

** 2 Corinthians 12:9, 2 Corinthians 13:4

Memorial Day – 2020

Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.” Per the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Honoring those who have died in service to the United States of America is a bittersweet moment for me. I desire to honor those men and women who have placed their lives on the line for me and the country I call home.

I have two dear men, in particular, who fit that category…my Daddy and my husband, Kenneth. Both of these men died from war-inflicted wounds of contamination: my father, Ralph D, Ross – Post WWII Manhattan Project radiation, Kenneth – Agent Orange/Vietnam War. The two most special men in my life have left their earthly home….gone from my earthly life. Yet, both are with me in my heart. I loved them both dearly.

Kenneth C. Gill
US Army 101st Airborne Infantry
Served 1967 – 1970
Vietnam 4/1968 – 4/1969
born – Salem, IL 1947 – died – Lufkin, TX 2018

June 7, 2018: He served in the Vietnam War 1968-1969 with the US Army’s 101st Airborne Infantry in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He returned to the states and completed his service with the 82nd Airborne in North Carolina. He was exposed to Agent Orange throughout that year marching through rice paddies and areas that once had been wooded areas, defoliated with AO.

Kenneth in Mason, Texas with one of his favorite characters from a book!
The author of “Old Yeller,” Fred Gipson, was from Mason.
The city library has a statue of the dog and the boy Travis.
Inside the library is a mini-museum featuring Fred Gipson.

In January, 2018, we found out he had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma which is one of the cancers connected with Agent Orange. We believe he had had it for some time due to symptoms we better understood after the fact.

Kenneth was a wonderful husband of 25 years. I was truly blessed. Thank You, Lord. As I walk these days without Kenneth, I still am filled with love for this man whom You loaned to me. I am grateful, Lord, every day. You are the One I walk with today.

Ralph D Ross
US Navy Physician
World War II – Pacific
1942 – 1945, then continuing on til his death in the US Navy
born – Sterling, KS 1913 – died – Bethesda, MD 1960

September 18, 1960: My father’s life vanished in his prime – 46, a Navy doctor, a career spiraling upwards, a lovely wife, 3 daughters (12, 10, 7). The Navy was so special to him, so much so that he did not intend to retire at the 20-year mark!  He served in WWII in the Pacific Theater as surgeon, infection control medical officer, doctor, user of Penicillin in its early days to cure Syphillis.  From 1946-1951, he became a part of the post-WWII Manhattan Project, serving as a Radiological Safety Officer, while he continued to practice medicine in the Navy.  He was on Bikini Island for Operations Crossroads in 1946, then on Eniwetok for Operations Greenhouse in 1951.  By early 1960, he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer…a death sentence then. It can be connected with radiation poisoning. Daddy was the best. I still miss him so!

My parents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. An honor, to say the least! (The photo above was taken on a Memorial Day weekend, as told by the flag. I had a friend of a blogging friend take it while she was there. Thanks.)

Mama became a Gold Star Widow; we became Gold Star children. “They are the Gold Star children, war’s innocent victims, and their pain shimmers across the years pure and undimmed. They pass through life with an empty room in their hearts where a father was supposed to live and laugh and love.  All their lives they listen for the footstep that will never fall, and long to know what might have been.”  **

Eleanor Malcotte Ross
born – Chicago, IL 1914 – died – Portland, TX 2013

January 30, 2013: My mother was an unsung war hero, too, although she did not die from war-related causes!  Not only was she a Navy officer’s wife, but worked during the war for the Naval Supply Depot, keeping the Navy-at-war in food and other supplies. She was a special woman! Lots of fun too!

Buried with Daddy at Arlington National Cemetery.

Father, thank You for these very special people in my life. They have meant so much to me over the span of my lifetime. I am so grateful for the love I have known from each one of them. They loved me, each in their own special way. I honor the service they offered to this country. Thank You for bringing Daddy and Kenneth home from wars so that Daddy could be my father and Kenneth could be my husband. I am sorry they each died from contamination of war-related agents. I am so sorry for that…for my loss as well. I also honor the many more who died from their service to the United States of America. Please protect those many more service men and women who continue to be in harm’s way around the world, Lord. Hold those who have served but are dealing with the effects of war. Some are wanting to get ‘back-to-normal,’ others are dealing with homelessness, and others are medically or psychologically traumatized. Please care for them all, Father God. I pray all in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Photograph: Arlington National Cemetery, Memorial Day, Flags In @ https://s.abcnews.com/images/US/160520_abc_vod_orig_memorialday_presidents_mix_16x9_992.jpg

All other photographs are my own. Please ask permission to use.

** Quoted in We Were Soldiers Once…and Young by Lt. General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway

Memorial Day 2019

Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.” Per the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Honoring those who have died in service to the United States of America is a bittersweet moment for me. I desire to honor those men and women who have placed their lives on the line for me and the country I call home. I also have two men, in particular, who fit that category now. Once I had only my Daddy. Now, this year, I also honor my husband, Kenneth. Both of these men died from war-inflicted wounds of contamination…radiation – my father, Agent Orange – Kenneth. The two most special men in my life have left their earthly home….gone from my earthly life. Yet, both are with me in my heart. I loved them both dearly. I know I will see Kenneth in Heaven and I pray so for my Daddy.

Kenneth C. Gill
US Army 101st Airborne Infantry
Served 1967 – 1970
Vietnam 4/1968 – 4/1969
born – Salem, IL 1947 – died – Lufkin, TX 2018

June 7, 2018: This is the first Memorial Day without Kenneth. He was close to death last May. He died June 7th. He served in the Vietnam War 1968-1969 with the US Army’s 101st Airborne Infantry in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He returned to the states and completed his service with the 82nd Airborne in North Carolina. He was exposed to Agent Orange throughout that year marching through rice paddies and areas that once had been wooded areas, since defoliated with AO.

Kenneth in Mason, Texas with one of his favorite characters from a book!
The author of “Old Yeller,” Fred Gipson, was from Mason.
The city library has a statue of the dog and the boy Travis.
Inside the library is a mini-museum featuring Fred Gipson.

In January, 2018, we found out he had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma which is one of the cancers connected with Agent Orange. We believe he had had it for some time due to symptoms we better understood after the fact.

Kenneth was a wonderful husband of 25 years. I was truly blessed. God provided such a blessing to my life. Thank You, Lord. As I walk these days without Kenneth, I still am filled with love for this man whom You loaned to me. I am grateful, Lord, every day. You are the One I walk with today.

Ralph D Ross
US Navy Physician
World War II – Pacific
1942 – 1945, then continuing on til his death in the US Navy
born – Sterling, KS 1913 – died – Bethesda, MD 1960

September 18, 1960: My father’s life vanished in his prime – 46, a Navy doctor, a career spiraling upwards, a lovely wife, 3 daughters (12, 10, 7). The Navy was so special to him, so much so that he did not intend to retire at the 20-year mark!  He served in WWII in the Pacific Theater as surgeon, infection control medical officer, doctor, user of Penicillin in its early days to cure Syphillis.  From 1946-1951, he became a part of the after-war Manhattan Project, serving as a Radiological Safety Officer, while he continued to practice medicine in the Navy.  He was on Bikini Island for Operations Crossroads in 1946, then on Eniwetok for Operations Greenhouse in 1951.  By early 1960, he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer…a death sentence then and often, now. It is connected with radiation poisoning. PLUS…he was a great Daddy! I still miss him!

My parents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. An honor, to say the least! (This was taken on a Memorial Day weekend as you can see by the flag. I had a friend of a blogging friend take it while she was there. Thanks.)

Mama became a Gold Star Widow; we became Gold Star children. “They are the Gold Star children, war’s innocent victims, and their pain shimmers across the years pure and undimmed. They pass through life with an empty room in their hearts where a father was supposed to live and laugh and love.  All their lives they listen for the footstep that will never fall, and long to know what might have been.”  **

Eleanor Malcotte Ross
born – Chicago, IL 1914 – died – Portland, TX 2013

January 30, 2013: My mother was an unsung war hero, too, although she did not die from war-related causes!  Not only was she a Navy officer’s wife, but worked during the war for the Naval Supply Depot, keeping the Navy-at-war in food and other supplies. She was a fine and fun mother too!

Buried with Daddy at Arlington National Cemetery.

Father, thank You for these very special people in my life. They have meant so much to me over the span of my lifetime. I am so grateful for the love I have known from each one of them. They loved me each in their own special way. I honor the service they offered to this country. Thank You for bringing Daddy and Kenneth home from wars so that Daddy could be my father and Kenneth could be my husband. Thank You. I am sorry they each died from contamination of war-related agents. I am so sorry for that…for my lose as well. I also honor the many more who died from their service to the United States of America. Please protect those many more service men and women who continue to be in harm’s way around the world, Lord. Hold those who have served but are dealing with the effects of war. Some are wanting to get ‘back-to-normal,’ others are dealing with homelessness, and others are medically or psychologically traumatized. Please care for them all, Father God. I pray all in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Photograph: Arlington National Cemetery, Memorial Day, Flags In @ https://s.abcnews.com/images/US/160520_abc_vod_orig_memorialday_presidents_mix_16x9_992.jpg

All other photographs are my own. Please ask permission to use.

** Quoted in We Were Soldiers Once…and Young by Lt. General Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway

Memories of Trains

272590_c6bced1236b7b17abdcfdc19f49595ac_large

“And the LORD will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”
  Isaiah 58:11

This post is different for me but I have been listening to the sounds of trains since we moved to Lufkin.  Trains have always delighted me, since I was a young girl.

A number of trains run through this town each and every day.  As they move from one end to another, they cross intersections of the town so the horn must be blown.

From our home, we cannot see the train, but it can be heard, especially when the wind is out of the north and northeast. Clear and loud…these sounds make me smile.  Take a short listen of what it (almost) sounds like for me (just listening to the beginning is enough to hear what I hear, except I am further away):

The train was endearing for me as a little girl.  When I was young, we lived on a Naval hospital base, about 4 miles from a railroad track.  When Daddy got home from work at the hospital, he would pile 2 of us girls in the car, go down to the tracks and wait for the five-something o’clock train (letting Mom get dinner without the 2 older kids while the youngest, being an infant, was napping).  We loved to wave to the engineer and he would blow that horn for us.  I was in early elementary school so counting the cars was a great exercise for my brain.  Of course, my sister (3 years younger) wanted to imitate me so she was learning to count too.  The train draws me back to those younger days and times with my father.

While living there in this small town, the second graders got to go to the San Diego Zoo for a field trip.  We lived a bit over 100 miles away.  We boarded buses early in the morning, taking us to the Riverside, CA train station.  From there we boarded the train to San Diego.  We spent the better part of the day at the zoo after a wonderful train ride.  Then back on the train to Riverside and buses to home.  What a great field trip!  That was 63 years ago and I remember it as if it were yesterday!

"CALIFORNIA San Diego - Santa Fe Train Station, Bekins 1950s"
“CALIFORNIA San Diego – Santa Fe Train Station, Bekins 1950s”

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When my Daddy became very ill, my parents sent us from Washington, D.C. (where he was stationed) to Boston on the train for a couple of weeks to vacation with some family friends.  The three of us girls rode together, alone.  I was 12 and my sisters were 9 and 6 at the time.  We thought we had grown up…riding the train without our parents.  We ate on the train, turned our tickets into the conductor, walked through a couple of cars, and watched people.  Fun for us and helped us forget how sick Daddy was.

I lived in Washington, D.C. twice in my life.  For the adult period, I was teaching in the DC Public Schools.  Union Station became a favorite place for me. I would change subways there, catching the Red Line.  I would often go upstairs for a minute, above the underground rails, before catching that homeward-bound train, just to see the beautiful old station.  At Christmas, they would have a few concerts in the Main Hall.  Oh my, it was so beautiful and wonderful!

During the 1980s, retail stores and restaurants began to be added in several areas of the station.  I returned to our Capital in 2013.  I was so saddened by the transformation that had happened to Union Station between 1989 and 2013…crowded with people, stores, cafes, island-type tiny shops.  It was so noisy.  What was once a gorgeous station was no more.  BUT…the Federal Railroad Administration and the State Historic Preservation Office stepped in and by May 2016, the Main Hall has been renovated back to the way it had been.  Oh, how glad I am to see this picture and the way it is NOW…again!

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Union Station, Washington, D.C. 2017

Kenneth and I have been on a few trains drawn by steam engines…delightful rides through lovely scenery too.

Here is just an example of the sounds which they are famous for, and make me smile!

The Metro Subway in Washington, D.C. gives me pleasure in a different sense than a train…smooth, mellow, fast or slow, light or dark depending on where I am on the line.  The subway became my main transportation while I lived and worked there.  I rode the bus too as I had no car.  I liked that.

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The sounds and feelings of trains and subways are so special to me.  I just love them.

A.B. Simpson (1843 – 1919) wrote: “God is looking for men on whom He can put the weight of all His love and power and faithful promises.  God’s engines are strong enough to draw any weight we attach to them. Unfortunately the cable which we fasten to the engine is often too weak to hold the weight of our prayer; therefore God is drilling us, disciplining us to stability and certainty in the life of faith.  Let us learn our lessons and stand fast.”

And a sweet hymn to offer before we go today:

“Life Is Like A Mountain Railroad”

Author: Eliza Roxey Snow 1804-1887;  Author: M. E. Abbey (Minister in GA in 1890s)

…that this is God, our God forever and ever.  He will be our guide forever.  Psalm 48:14 (guiding Scripture for hymn)

Life is like a mountain railroad,
With an engineer that’s brave;
We must make the run successful,
From the cradle to the grave;
Watch the curves, the fills, the tunnels;
Never falter, never quail;
Keep your hand upon the throttle,
And your eye upon the rail.

Refrain:
Blessed Savior, Thou wilt guide us,
Till we reach the blissful shore,
Where the angels wait to join us
In Thy praise forevermore.

You will roll up grades of trial;
You will cross the bridge of strife;
See that Christ is your conductor
On this lightning train of life;
Always mindful of obstruction,
Do your duty, never fail;
Keep your hand upon the throttle,
And your eye upon the rail. [Refrain]

You will often find obstructions,
Look for storms and wind and rain;
On a fill, or curve, or trestle
They will almost ditch your train;
Put your trust alone in Jesus,
Never falter, never fail;
Keep your hand upon the throttle,
And your eye upon the rail. [Refrain]

As you roll across the trestle,
Spanning Jordan’s swelling tide,
You behold the Union Depot
Into which your train will glide;
There you’ll meet the Sup’rintendent,
God the Father, God the Son,
With the hearty, joyous plaudit,
“Weary pilgrim, welcome home.” [Refrain]

Yes, “weary pilgrim, welcome home.”  What a blessing to think upon this, most of all.

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Train in Lufkin, TX: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=19&v=QYB9jWOalYI

Santa Fe Station in San Diego, CA – postcard “CALIFORNIA San Diego – Santa Fe Train Station, Bekins 1950s”   http://neplains.com/californiasandiego-santafetrainstationbekins1950s.aspx

Outside the San Diego station:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/tall_dude/3175800704

Steam Locomotive: Bells and Whistleshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=utg0tK7cDbE

Metro Subway:  https://www.eiseverywhere.com/ehome/2012ALC/dc/

Metro Map:  http://www.railfanguides.us/dc/metro/